Training this thoroughbred

The results

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This horse has genetic markers indicating it can withstand the rigors of training and racing without negatively affecting its career as a three-year-old.

Horses with this result are powered by strength and speed. Because of their ability to maintain a rapid stride turnover and propel themselves forward at the start and finish of a race, these horses run well over short distances (up to 7 furlongs) on courses with turns and short straights.

With the right conditioning program, early racing is in alignment with this horse’s developmental capability.

Conditioning

This horse will benefit from slow conditioning to lessen the chance of a shortened career due to injury.

Thoroughbreds like this horse, with a bias towards sprinting, will naturally develop more muscle mass and have a higher bodyweight to height ratio. This puts them at a higher risk of fracture and mechanical loading on the joints.

As this horse matures, the growth plates on either end of each bone will close, with the knees usually fusing at around the age of two, this makes their knees vulnerable to injury when they begin training.

It is well documented that injuries and breakdowns can occur when young thoroughbreds are pressured to perform before they are ready, but scientific data has demonstrated that the musculoskeletal system of thoroughbreds with this genetic profile can positively adapt to exercise early in life.

Thoroughbreds that enter race training at two years of age have been found to earn more and have longer race careers than horses that were started later.

Long-term injury risk is lowered by incorporating soft exposure to exercise where “bone remodeling” can occur in response to the physical stress of training.

While muscle and cardiovascular fitness can be accomplished in as little as eight weeks, ligament and bone matter strength can take up to five months to reach galloping capacity. Where feasible, it is better to avoid rushing training this type of horse, and avoid long layoff periods.

An early conditioning program of prescribed sprints with pasture turnout can assist with this horse’s musculoskeletal development and prevent injuries when it enters race training.

Horses of this type do well when in consistent work, and it is recommended that they are not turned out after breaking in, but instead exercised softly but regularly (even if only every second day).

How this horse will run and produce energy

This horse will likely have a low-profile galloping action combined with a high stride frequency and longer ground contact duration, providing time for propulsion. With a stride bias towards strength running, this horse is powered by type 2X muscle fibers that are fast contracting, but tire quickly.

Horses with a higher proportion of these fast-twitch muscle fibers can instantly access power and speed through a process called anaerobic glycolysis.

This process works at its peak within 60 seconds–and for a horse running distances of five or six furlongs, that is all the time and energy required to get to the finish line.

The downside of this process is that these type 2X muscle fibers cannot sustain rapid anaerobic glycolysis for more than a mile.

In this case, glycogen stored in the muscles is swiftly consumed coinciding with an accumulation of lactate which blocks the muscle function and prevents the horse from keeping up the pace over distances longer than 7 furlongs.